Houston negligence lawsuit alleges slip-and-fall injuries at area mall

Owners and occupiers of premises open to the public must take reasonable care to correct dangerous conditions.

A lawsuit was filed in Harris County District Court in February 2017 that illustrates Texas premises liability law. In this case, a woman alleges she was injured after slipping in a puddle of water that had formed near some beer coolers on the floor at Willowbrook Mall in Houston.

Premises liability claims

Premises liability is an area of personal injury law that assigns liability when a property owner or occupier negligently or recklessly creates or does not correct a dangerous condition that causes injury to someone legally on the premises. Typical examples include:

  • A grocery store negligently fails to clean up spilled liquid or slippery produce, causing a patron to slip and fall.
  • A restaurant or store negligently ignores a needed repair on an uneven floor, causing a customer to trip and fall.
  • A motel in a high-crime area fails to provide sufficient locks on guest-room doors or adequate security in a parking lot, resulting in an assault on a guest because of insufficient security.
  • A business ignores a leaking gas appliance and a resulting explosion injures a patron.
  • A hotel does not install required smoke alarms, harming a sleeping guest when a fire breaks out without warning.

Elements of a Texas premises liability claim

To recover, the injured party must show that the owner or occupier of premises knew or should have known of a condition on the property that presented an unreasonable risk of harm; that the owner or occupier failed to take reasonable care to address the risk; and that the failure to take reasonable care caused the injury.

The mall lawsuit

According to the recent Harris County complaint, the plaintiff alleges that in the fall she bruised on her arm, knee and back, causing ongoing pain and restricting her ability to perform "everyday tasks."

The plaintiff claims that the puddle was an "unreasonably dangerous condition" in a place managed by the defendant mall. She alleges that the mall was negligent because it either knew about the wet floor or should have known if it had exercised "ordinary care" and that it had not fixed the problem or warned the plaintiff of the danger.

She alleges that there is clear and convincing evidence of negligence and that the negligence caused her injuries.

Specifically, the complaint asserts that the elements of a claim for premises liability were met because:

  • The plaintiff was essentially invited by the mall to shop there.
  • The defendant possessed the premises where the injury occurred.
  • The puddle created an "unreasonable risk of harm."
  • The defendant "knew or reasonably should have known of the danger."
  • The mall did not warn the plaintiff of the puddle, nor did it remove it.
  • The puddle caused the injuries.

The complaint requests money damages for past and future:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical impairment
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost wages
  • Loss in earning capacity

She also asks for exemplary damages meant to punish the defendant and set an example, for a jury trial and for costs.

Seek legal advice

Any Texan or visitor to the Lone Star State who is injured on the premises of another should speak with an attorney about the potential of a premises liability claim.

The attorneys at Marynell Maloney Law Firm, PLLC, in San Antonio, serve Austin-area clients in slip-and-fall claims and other premises liability and personal injury matters as well as people from Austin, Lackland AFB, throughout the region and across Texas.